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In my quest to taste all cookies, I’ve had my share of bar cookies.  However most have been limited to some version of a brownie or chocolate chip cookie.  This recipe is like none of these.  In fact, this recipe is easy to make and is so delicious that it easily can become the crowd pleasure at your next “bring a dish” function.  This sticky treat has just the right amount of caramel, cookie, crunch, and chocolate – it will make even the most picky sweet treat craver smile.  And like its other “bar cookie relatives” it’s sturdy and transports well making it the perfect treat to bring to any event including lunch boxes, potlucks, and road trips.  Try this out and it will be one of your favorites too!

Crust

  • 1 stick of cold butter cut in pieces
  • 1 1/2 cup of flour leveled
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 tsp of salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 8 inch square baking pan and line with parchment paper and butter the parchment paper.  Combine flour, butter, sugar, and salt in a food processor until fine crumbs form.  You can also use a pastry cutter and cut the butter in the flour, sugar, and salt mixture.  Press the crumb mixture lightly into the bottom of the baking pan and bake on the top third of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes until the cookie turn light brown.   Meanwhile spread the pecans (2 cups) on a baking sheet and bake (middle third of the oven) for 6-8 minutes until lightly toasted.  Remove from oven, cool, and chop roughly.

Filling

  • 2 cups of pecans
  • 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, combine sugars, honey, butter, and cream.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer stirring until slightly thickened (4 to 5 minutes).  Stir in pecans and vanilla.  Spread over the crust and let cool in the pan.  About 30 minutes into cooling, add the chocolate pieces and drop in small spoonfuls all over the caramel spread.  Let cool for another 30 minutes.  Once fully cooled, cut into bar squares and enjoy!  As you see,  I couldn’t even wait to plate these cause they looked so good!!

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Being the sweet treat craver that I am, I have carefully studied the caloric content of almost every cookie and brownie out there to see how many servings I could eat without blowing the 1800 daily max that most health mags recommend.  Now I would not typically talk calories on this site, however it is worth noting that the ginger snap cookie is a sweet treat that you can eat in plenty without totally ruining any attempt to mind calories.  The cookie recipe I am sharing is about 100 calories per cookie and are so tasty.  So go ahead, indulge!!

It’s also noteworthy to mention the many documented benefits of ginger.  Ginger is said to be able to treat inflammatory disease such as arthritis, migraines, colds/flu, and nausea.  So in addition to being a relatively low-calorie sweet treat, it’s really more of a super cookie as ginger could be said to be a super food.  So my advice to you.  Eat plenty of ginger cookies – not only will you feel good from how great they taste – your body may just be a little bit healthier.

Below is a recipe I used this holiday season which was a blend of recipes I found in several magazines.  The secret to these cookies is candied ginger.  Really.  If you are like me, you’ve passed this in the produce aisle many a time and been clueless as to what it’s used for.  Well here is your answer,  Ginger Snap cookies!  The addition of the candied ginger takes the cookie over the top and provides a much more powerful ginger boost than simply using the spice alone.  Here’s the recipe and some pics of the way I packaged the cookies for the holidays.  Try it out and let me know what you think!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 oz candied ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 molasses
  • 1/8 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar for decorating

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Slice candied ginger into strips and use a food processor on pulse to chop candied ginger as small as possible.  Put to the side.  In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt, and spices – set aside.  Using stand or electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar on medium until light and fluffy (2 -3 minutes). Reduce mixer speed to low and add candied ginger.  Then add in the eggs, then molasses and then oil.  .  Slowly add the flour mixer, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.  Give the dough a mix with a spatula to ensure no pockets of flour remain.  Sprinkle sugar in a 9-in round cake pan. Roll dough into balls (abt 2 tbsps each) and drop into sugared pan to coat.  Place on parchment covered baking sheet and bake for 11-12 minutes and remove from oven.  (cookie may look raw).  Let cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes and then finish cooling on baking rack.  The finished product will be a chewy cookie with a hearty ginger flavor and bite.  Enjoy!!!

I have just ended weeks of “test baking” to develop the perfect holiday cookie boxes.  Happily in the midst of all this test baking, I realized that brownies are the world’s simplest baked good.  So much so that I promise to skip all boxed brownie recipes in the future;  in the same amount of time, I can make a chocolatey goodness 10x better than the store-bought version.  An added bonus with brownies is that no mixer is required and the entire recipe takes about 20 minutes to prepare.  The secret that makes these brownies so good are high quality chocolate (like Ghirardelli 60% Cacao bittersweet), the espresso added into the melted chocolate, and the Cocoa powder added into the flour.  These triple chocolate secrets will take the average brownie recipe into high gear!   I hope you’ll try this recipe and let me know what you think!

To make these brownies, you’ll need the following – 2/3 cup of flour, 1/4 tsp baking soda, 2 tbsp of cocoa powder, 1 stick of butter, 1 cup sugar, 2 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla, 8 oz of high quality chocolate (chopped coarsely), 2 tablespoons of espresso coffee (brewed), and 4 oz of chocolate chips. Chopped pecans or walnuts are optional.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a square 8 x 8 x 2-inch or 9 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish.  Whisk dry ingredients together and set aside in a small bowl.  Fill a sauce pot about 1/3 of the way and bring to  simmer.  Place a glass bowl over the pot of simmering water, add the chocolate, butter, and espresso and stir until melted.  Once melted, remove from heat and bring to room temperature.  Once chocolate is at room temperature, add the sugar, stir and then add the eggs, one at a time and stir until fully incorporated. Mix in the vanilla.   Finally, add the dry ingredient and stir until fully incorporated but don’t over stir then add the chips.  Fill pan with brownie mixture and cook for 25 minutes.  Let the brownies sit until they reach room temperature and then cut and store in an air-tight container.  Brownies will store at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the freezer for three months.